The aspiration of almost every small company is to grow and evolve to become a well known and established business and as well as outdo their competition; the effect of company growth on its employees is a concept that not many assess but should. A recent study conducted by Payment Sense highlights a negative correlation between the size of a company and employee willingness to work overtime.
Those employed by smaller firms have been identified as more willing to work unpaid overtime for the benefit of the company than those employed by larger companies. Of the 1000 small business employees used in the study, 47% of those who stated that they often worked unpaid overtime were employed by small firms consisting of 10 or less employees and did so voluntarily for the sake of company growth and advancement. However, when assessing those employed by larger firms with upwards of 11 employees a noticeable decrease in employee willingness to work unpaid overtime is observed; with less than a third of them showing any interest in voluntary unpaid overtime (30% in firms with 11-50 employees, 22% in firms with 51-100 employees and 21% in firms with 101-250 employees).
With such an obvious difference identified between company size and employee engagement, it leads one to question; what changes as a company grows that leads employees to no longer see company development as a good enough incentive for overtime?
When analysing small businesses in comparison to larger firms often the organisational structure is different, and it is this difference that could potentially lead to the disengagement of employees. In smaller firms more often than not there is a more team like structure used, with most of the employees being equally ranked within the company and minimal unwanted managerial input; employees work together to achieve an overall goal dividing the workload more evenly, in comparison to larger firms who display a more hierarchical structure with management having a more dominant role in the business. Research has shown that as a business grows managerial involvement increases with 32% of those employed by firms with over 50 employees citing increased managerial pressures as their reason for overtime rather than a personal choice, compared to the 25% of those employed by smaller companies with 10 or less employees.
Leading business coach Clare Diamond suggests that employee disengagement may also be caused by lack of alignment between individual and organisational purpose; she states that "when someone believes in and has passion for what they are doing, all their resources, ideas, energy and experience are available for that purpose".
It is geneally observed that employees of small businesses have a genuine passion for the company they are working forand as a result are more willing to put in the necessary work needed for the success of the firm even if that means working overtime; this same passion for company wellbeing is generally not seen in larger firms with aspiration for personal advancement within the company being more prevelant than the advancement of the company itself. It is this lack of alignment that may explain the percentage decrease of those willing to participate in unpaid overtime as the size of the firm increases, as the individual does not benefit from the extra work in any way there is no passion or desire to want to put in the work beyond their paid hours. Diamond therefore goes on to state the importance of emphasising and nurturing alignment as the company grows, this ensures that both individual and organisational passion are maintained despite company growth.
Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Payment Sense emphasises the "importance of keeping an eye on culture and atmosphere as well as the balance sheet" in growing companies to maintain overall employee happiness.
Overall, this shows that small businesses tend to benefit from employees not only giving extra time, but sharing the load and vision of the company; over larger firms who may instead see a higher staff turnover and less engaged staff.